An arthrogram is an x-ray study of the joints, usually performed in the shoulder, knees, etc. This exam is mainly done to see if you have tears or rips in the various connective tissues that help make up a well-working joint.

The radiologist will start the procedure by cleaning the skin over the joint in order to prepare a sterile field for the exam. Then, Lidocaine or a similar medicine is used to numb the skin over the joint. Next, a small needle is injected into the joint and a series of films, using both fluoroscopy and plain x-rays, will be taken.

The procedure is most often used to identify abnormalities within the:

  • shoulder
  • elbow
  • wrist
  • hip
  • knee
  • ankle

The procedure is also used to help diagnose persistent, unexplained joint pain or discomfort. In some cases, local anesthetic medications or steroids may be injected into the joint along with the contrast material. These medications may temporarily decrease joint-related pain or inflammation and provide physicians additional information about possible sources of joint pain.

Other than the restrictions that your physician has advised, you will not need to take any additional safety precautions, other than to be very careful and cautious in moving the joint that has been studied.